Leading dental law firm, the Dental Law Partnership, has launched a national campaign calling on the government to close the legal loophole which currently allows UK dentists to operate without insurance.
The 42 strong firm with offices in Nantwich and Elstree devised the campaign – called Bridge the Gap - to raise awareness of the gap in the law which is denying patients access to justice.
Campaign head and director at DLP, Chris Dean said: “There are two major issues which are having a direct effect on consumer’s rights. Firstly dentists are allowed to operate without professional indemnity and secondly, which is even more concerning, dental insurers do not have to co-operate with claims.
He continued: “At the moment an insurer does not have to provide any information to the general public regarding professional liability cover without authority from the insured dentist – meaning an increasing number of people are being left without any redress.”
In the last five years the firm has encountered an increasing number of legal claims in which the dentists have no liability cover and /or completely fail to co-operate with the claims. Chris and his team at DLP have a list of 50 people who have not been able to progress claims.
One such person is Gabriela Andrei. Gabriela needs £15,000 worth of remedial work on her teeth after negligent work done by a dentist who now cannot be traced. She, is backing the campaign to get her voice heard.
“I cannot afford to have the work done and currently have no teeth in my lower jaw, which makes it very difficult to eat. I need some form of compensation and quickly to put things right.”
Dean continues: “We estimate in the last seven years 208,250 people across the UK have been put at potential risk by 119 dentists who were up in front of the industry regulator, the General Dental Council (GDC) over the period, and found to be without cover and/or absent and unrepresented at hearings.
“What is more worrying is that in the first four months of this year 55% of all concluded dentist conduct hearings at the GDC involved dentists without liability cover or who did not co-operate with formal processes. It was just 25% in 2011.”
Dean concludes: “The loopholes in the law and deliberate lack of co-operation from insurance companies make access to justice impossible. That has got to change.”
Initial reaction to the campaign has been excellent with MPs, other law firms, dentists and patient rights campaigners pledging their support for the campaign’s objective of providing a better level of protection for dental patients in the UK.
To sign the Bridge the Gap petition visit www.btgcampaign.co.uk.
The firm is addressing this week’s Westminster Forum in London on Thursday 12th July.
The forum brings together the government, MPs, policy makers and leading professionals to look at access, quality and regulation in the dental industry. DLP’s joint managing director David Corless-Smith is presenting on the lack of regulatory enforcement of professional liability cover.